PUEBLO, Colo. (August 31, 2017) - For the second straight year Colorado State University-Pueblo and Colorado School of Mines were stuck in the locker room waiting out a storm in a Thursday season opener. This season the No. 12 ThunderWolves weren't phased by the delay and recorded a 38-7 Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference victory against the visiting No. 16 Orediggers.
The Pack couldn't have been more balanced on the offensive side of the ball with 31 carries for 237 yards and 32 passing attempts for 228 yards. Defensively the ThunderWolves held last season's No. 1 offense in NCAA Division II to 311 yards and created two interceptions.
CSU-Pueblo had a 7-0 lead and the momentum when lightning and rain delayed the game early in the second quarter for about an hour and a half. Last season the teams were ready for the opening kickoff when a lightning storm pushed back the start nearly two hours. Colorado Mines came out of that delay and gave the Pack one of their worst beatings in the modern era. Following tonight's delay, the Mines defense stopped the Pack at midfield and then charged 90 yards to the end zone to tie the game 7-7 with 6:05 remaining in the first half.
The Orediggers didn't score again.
The ThunderWolves rattled off 31 unanswered points in the final 36 minutes of play. A Dominic Sesay (Sr., S, Long Beach, Calif.) interception on the next Mines possession jump started the rally and set up a one-play, 17-yard touchdown pass from starter Brandon Edwards (Jr., Bothell, Wash.) to sophomore running back Austin Micci (Colorado Springs, Colo.). Micci then ran into the end zone from 33 yards out on a fourth-and-one play with under a minute to go in the half to give the home team a 21-7 lead at the break.
The Pack took to the air in the second half with junior quarterback AJ Thompson (Denver, Colo.) finding Ammon Johnson (So., Denver, Colo.) for a 25-yard score and Josh Smith (Jr., Everett, Wash.) for a 21-yard touchdown.
Mitchell Carter (R-Fr., Colorado Springs, Colo.) put the cherry on top with a 26-yard field goal in the fourth quarter.
• All three Pack quarterbacks played in the game with Edwards getting the start. He went 13-for-19 (68.4%) in his first NCAA Division II start and threw for 152 yards and two touchdowns.
• Thompson was inserted as a run threat in the second half, but his arm was just as impressive, as he went 5-for-9 (55.6%) for 76 yards and two strikes to the end zone. He also rushed for 48 yards on three attempts, which included a 31-yard scamper.
• The two combined to find eight different receivers for 18 receptions. Senior Osha Washington (Stockton, Calif.) hauled in four receptions and the opening touchdown (a five yard strike from Edwards that capped a 10-play, 75-yard opening drive). Johnson brought in three receptions for 53 yards.
CATCH OF THE GAME
• Smith only had one reception, but it was impressive. The junior hauled in a one-handed grab with two Mines defenders in his face for his first score as a member of the Pack.
• The return of senior Josh Croy (Littleton, Colo.) has re-energized the defensive line. The defensive end led the team with 10 tackles (four solo) with two tackles for loss (-3 yards). The rest of the starting line followed suit, as junior Deyon Sizer (Aurora, Colo.) was second in tackles with seven (three solo) and tight end turned D-lineman junior Michael Wristen (Broomfield, Colo.) added three tackles with one for loss.
SEEING RED (ZONE)
The ThunderWolves were 5-for-5 in the red zone with four touchdowns and a 26-yard field goal from the new kicker, Carter. Last season the ThunderWolves ranked No. 18 nationally with a red zone scoring rate of 87.5 percent.
• The run game saw four different backs total at least 25 yards with Micci totaling 65 yards on 12 carries. He added 34 yards in the pass game. Senior Bernard McDondle (Littleton, Colo.) was the catalyst before the lightning delay, as he totaled 111 yards of offense on 11 plays (9 for 53 on the ground and 2 for 58 through the air).
• The Pack improved to 18-9 all-time against the Orediggers and are now 9-1 since 2008 in season and RMAC openers.
• CSU-Pueblo is now 16-6 overall and 11-4 at home against ranked opponents since 2011.
• The ThunderWolves got in on the RED OUT by wearing red pants for the first time in program history.
• Junior Darius Williams totaled four tackles and a break-up wearing No. 19 instead of his usual No. 20 to honor former player Ronnel McNeal, who passed away in December.
The ThunderWolves will take on region rival West Texas A&M University Sept. 9 at 5 p.m. MT in Canyon, Texas. The game features an interesting match-up, as former Pack defensive coordinator of nine seasons, Hunter Hughes, is the head coach for WT.
– 30 –
As a member of the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference, Colorado State University – Pueblo competes in 22 varsity sports in NCAA Division II intercollegiate athletics.